I know, even I think I am dragging these out into too many parts, but there is so much to cover in each article. With that, let’s keep it moving forward.
Walls, ceiling, roof, glazing, now we are onto actually setting up the raised garden bed inside of the greenhouse along with some other pieces.
HugelKulture gardening –
Being that this is a brand new growing environment, mostly sandy soil with little to no nutrients. I don’t like adding compost or soil additives that I don’t know is inside them so we will be adding some tree trimmings to the base of the raised garden beds before adding the soil. As these tree trimmings rot, they will release vital nutrients as a starter for the garden beds.
Raised garden beds –
While we will be at 180 sq ft of internal greenhouse space, over 140 of that will be in raised garden beds. We will build these 18″ up from ground level. Made from 2×6 boards and 4×4’s. This will form a U shaped structure inside the greenhouse. I have backfilled using some of the sandy soil/ topsoils from the yard and I have added roughly 160 pounds of purchased nutrient-rich topsoil. I also added about 100 pounds of rabbit manure mixed through the bed as well to really jump start the nutrient mix.
Hanging garden space –
Greenhouses are great, they provide a year-round growing experience, but they typically have a lot of wasted space. Maximizing the heat and sunlight by providing large glazing, this usually sets up a higher roof profile. We will be incorporating a hanging garden space (rain gutter setups) to help to utilize some of that lost space.
A couple things to cover here – ventilation is crucial for a greenhouse. It reduces the hot stale air, it reduces the humidity and it reduces the opportunity for plant harmful bacteria and fungus to grow.
Solar powered thermal mass circulation – Moving the hot humid air out of the greenhouse during the heat of the day underground to the thermal mass which in turn pumps up cooler drier air into the greenhouse. This also helps to stabilize the temp inside the greenhouse regardless of day or night or external temperatures. This can be set up to either run full-time day or night or be set on thermostats to start automatically.
Solar powered roof fan – We will be incorporating a solar-powered roof fan to further help from overheating the plants inside. This will be set on an internal thermostat and kick on above a certain temp.
Natural ventilation ports – When all else fails, open up some ventilation ports (screened of course) from west to east to allow the wind to move through. This also helps to stimulate pollination with some of the plants.
Square foot drip irrigation – Along with our square foot gardening, we will be incorporating a square foot drip irrigation model to reduce our overall greenhouse water usage. This will apply the water directly at the plant ground level and should reduce evaporation.
Overhead misting – With some of the plants that we are growing, they require a hot and somewhat humid environment. For this, we will incorporate an overhead misting solution aimed towards those plants.
We will be applying mulch inside of the raised garden beds to retain ground moisture levels, reduce evaporation and control any unwanted growth.
With the sandy soil that we currently have, our plan is to leave that in place (not really a choice), though add 2″+ of pebble rock to the top of it. This will be another form of thermal mass, maintain a level of humidity and reduce walking in mud.
Read through the “Growing your own part 2” article and that will explain the rest.
In attempting to do our part to protect the bee population (OK, really to get access to free honey) we will be adding a small beehive location within the upper portion of the greenhouse. The plan is to provide both a controlled greenhouse internal access port, as well as an external opening for the bees to frolic and thrive. We are also looking at incorporating some mason bees as well.
With all of that said, I hope you have enjoyed following us along this entire greenhouse build project. Keep on Growing!